November is closing in and with it comes new consoles, major game releases and the onslaught of Christmas music. Originally, this post was going to be called, “Does the Switch have a chance?” Referencing the upcoming console releases and how the Nintendo Switch stands against them. However, after talking to a friend, he made a very valid point, does the Switch really need to compete with the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5? When you think about it enough, it probably doesn’t and hasn’t competed in years.
Nintendo hasn’t really followed similar trends in gaming for years now and for a long-time their best-selling consoles were handhelds. The DS and 3DS revolutionised the concept of gaming-on-the-go and you can still see that influence in the Switch today. The popularity was so high, the original DS family went on to outsell every single console in existence, bar the Playstation 2. Xbox has always been the ‘new’ kid on the playground, first joining the race in 2001, whereas Nintendo’s console history spans back all the way to 1977. This isn’t a dig at Xbox or Sony, they have clearly done incredible things in what many would consider a significantly shorter period of time. This is simply to say that Nintendo has a history with the gamer.
Nintendo – from what I can remember – have always done marketing differently. They have always been upfront, their consoles are about the games. This is possibly where the Xbox One originally missed the mark. In the run-up to launch, Microsoft were so fixated on marketing the Xbox One as being a console and a Home Media system. I remember adverts of being able to seamlessly switch between Sky TV and Halo because of the consoles HDMI in and out support. This was one of the most gimmicky things about the console, such a disappointing feature. All you have to do is look at Nintendo’s console release dates to realise that they aren’t competing for a launch market. The last mainline console from Nintendo to release remotely near to Playstation or Xbox was the Nintendo Wii – which smashed them both at market. The reason for this was because of one thing, which Nintendo has always done – they widen their audience and increase their demographics. Admittedly, the Wii U was a flop in 2012, but it is what paved the way to the Nintendo Switch.
If we consider sales as an implication, you must look at what follows. The Xbox One and PS4 both launched in 2013 and have since garnered around 50 and 112 million respectively. The Switch released around three and a half years later in March 2017 and has since reached around 62 million in sales. 62 million in half the time since both the PS4 and Xbox One launched. That is just astounding. The other two consoles are coming to the end of their lifespan and if anything, the Switch is only at the halfway point meaning it could outsell these consoles entirely. However, this is where it’s difficult to consider them competing as such because the Switch is about to be up against a second generation in it’s time.
The Switch, since it’s launched has welcomed some of the best games ever to release, creating history in itself. 3 years on, Breath of the Wild is still one of the most highly regarded games ever made, when you hear the name “Nintendo” in game-production, you know it will likely be a quality product.
After briefly mentioning Breath of the Wild already, it’s hard not to just gush about all the great games on the Switch, first-party or not. The list is so big that it is hard to name them all but to name a few: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros, Xenoblade Chronicles 1 & 2, Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo Labo, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and so on. When you think that the console has only been around for three and a half years, it’s actually quite mind-blowing the sheer amount of first-party games there actually are. The variety of games appeals to so many different demographics that it just shows how diverse their system is. To think, Mario Kart has a number of iterations and we now have a version running in Augmented Reality, something I don’t think would have been possible without Nintendo Labo. Their games are fresh and there is a title for any occasion, be it alone or with friends.
The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X are pushing the quality of their games in terms of graphics and performance, both of which are important to some, but you don’t need the best graphics to have a good time. I don’t think Switch games will ever be able to match the visual quality of these consoles, but it doesn’t need to. The Switch is fun and charming to play – you buy the Switch for their games, knowing that you are getting quality.
We have also received a number of big games from the generation onto the system which seems an unthinkable feat. Titles such as, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Doom, two massive and graphically intense games. Sure, the Switch may not be able to run at 4K, 120hz, 60fps, but the average person doesn’t need that, it’s the enthusiasts that want it.
There have been so many rumours of a Nintendo Switch Pro coming sometime soon and if that is true, it will be great. The increase of power, 4K support and higher frame-rates all sound tantalising to the ear, but these are still all rumours. Many would suggest that Nintendo isn’t shooting for pure 4K performance but a potential upscaling, who really knows what the future holds? Obviously, it would be great to see Nintendo release a Switch model that can rival that of the Series X and PS5 – but that isn’t who Nintendo is. This article would be for nothing if I was to say, “yes, release a console that can perform at the same pedigree.” The whole reason Nintendo has success in this industry is their unique approach to it. The Nintendo Switch is a console designed for taking gaming on the go, or playing from the comfort of your sofa. The unique selling point of the Switch would need to be done away with to truly compete on a performance level.
The Nintendo Switch will continue to make sales, it is currently having one of it’s best years so far. This will likely continue with releases like Breath of the Wild 2, Bravely Default 2 and Monster Hunter Rise. They’re all exclusive games that people want to play, driving more and more people to buy a Nintendo Switch. For example, in my house we own an Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch and a Switch Lite so we can both play and this will be the same across many gamer households.
Finally on the future, all I will say is this – it would be incredible to see The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in 4K running at a solid 60fps, but I wouldn’t sacrifice the other unique features of the Switch for it. So, as I said before, who really knows.
Back to the question we set out to consider: Does the Switch really need to compete?
Many out there will have read this article and their answer will still be yes. Yes, they do. In a sense, I can understand this – it is after all a competitive market – but the huge following Nintendo has gathered over the years would indicate that people are dedicated to them as it is. I personally wouldn’t say that I would have a Nintendo Switch on it’s own – I like my Call of Duty‘s and my Halo‘s. Although, I know many that would choose this console over any other, the only reason I wouldn’t is because of my PC – right now as it stands I would choose the Switch over anything but that. If you want to hear a little bit more about this topic from people a little more articulate than me, Nintendo Life released a video on their youtube channel back in September which is worth a watch.
When I think of some of the best moments I have had in gaming in the last 10 years, seeing Hyrule from the Great Plateau for the first time in 2017 really has to be one of the finer moments in gaming. Memories, memories and more memories, that is what the Nintendo Switch is, and that is why for me, it really does not need to compete with the other consoles.
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